MAKING THINGS RIGHT

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: ‘But the righteous one will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).

This gospel, of which Paul is unashamed (v.16), is the means by which the righteousness of God is revealed, or made known to the world. Used some thirty-four times in Romans, “righteousness,” and its verbal cognate, “to justify,” appearing fifteen times, these terms capture the action of God in “righting the ship” to reflect his person, character, and glory. That is, making right the unrighteousness, injustices, and corruption that sin has brought about in his created order; doing what is necessary for a more positive outcome. While God may not do it in a way we would expect, the gospel of Christ is our assurance that it is being, and will be, achieved.

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AN UNASHAMED CONVICTION

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

That Paul is not ashamed of the gospel highlights his keen understanding, and unwavering conviction, regarding the magnitude and scope of the salvation God is accomplishing in Christ Jesus. Salvation is too often interpreted only in terms of missing hell and making it to heaven when you die. Scripturally, however, while it certainly carries with it deliverance from the enemy of death, the salvation of God involves the redemption of the entire created order. The power necessary to achieve this scale of deliverance is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and is the same power God desires to be a present tense reality in your daily life, not just a hope for the future.

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DOING OUR PART 

“So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15).

The only thing necessary to cease the furtherance of the gospel is for one generation of believers to cease reaching the next. As such, following Paul’s lead of heralding the gospel, and the life of faith, should be our eager pursuit. Having abolished all human systems of categorizing people (v.14), the gospel itself has simplified the task of trying to discern who it is with whom we should speak of such matters. Instead of trying to figure out who might be most receptive, based upon their lifestyle, it’s easier to assume that all need a word of God’s grace.

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AN OBLIGATION TO ALL

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and the uncultured, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Romans 1:14).

The Greeks, who ruled the world centuries before the Romans, divided the world into two categories—themselves and everyone else. This, not unlike the Jews who saw only Jew and Gentile. The gospel, however, explodes upon the scene to abolish all human systems that seek to categorize people; revealing that God is impartial to all. The gospel doesn’t seek to transform barbarians into Greeks, Jews to Gentiles, or Gentiles to Jew. Christ becomes the great equalizer of humanity. As such, we his followers are under obligation not only to the One who died, but all those for whom He died.

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A PURPOSEFUL DAY

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

Whether staying home, going to work, or attending class, this day can be filled with meaning. To live vocationally is to understand that this day, and all the circumstances it will present, is the providential stage upon which you have been cast to fulfill the Great Commandment of loving both God and man. One’s chosen career is always less important than than the commitment to serving God and neighbor in every facet of life. Do honor to this day.

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EYE FOR DETAIL 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

It’s easy to assume God would be interested only in the big things—life and death issues. Jesus reminds us, however, that God is like a doting father, interested in the most minute details of our existence. Since the challenges of life are delivered by thousands of minnows and rarely a killer shark, it is comforting to know that God is Lord of even the smallest of things.

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GOING WITH EXPECTANCY

“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also just as among the rest of the Gentiles” (Romans 1:13).

In an unceasing spirit of diligent prayer (vs.8-10), Paul is making preparation to visit the church in Rome with the full expectation that God is going to work, through their lives together, for the accomplishment of a greater work than they could ever imagine. It is an anticipation I have carried to the pulpit for over 33 years as a pastor, and is one we should all have when going to church; that when God’s people gather for worship, and the gospel is proclaimed, kingdom fruit will be borne out in both tangible and unimaginable ways.

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SOMETHING GIVEN SOMETHING GAINED 

“That is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12).

Paul’s desire to impart his giftedness to the church in Rome (v.11) anticipates a mutual benefit of encouragement. It confirms the ancient principle of sowing and reaping. I love Paul’s use of “together.” How we desperately need this reminder, as the followers of Christ, that we are a “togethering” people; “togethering” our way through life and the journey of faith. Whether the church in Rome realized it or not, they needed Paul, just as Paul needed them…just as we need one another. When any one of us are absent, we are never what we could be together.

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GRAFTED IN BY GRACE

“to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

Though the Christians in Rome are a people of diverse ethnicity and backgrounds, Paul distinguishes them by no other names than “beloved” and “saints.” Both terms are counted among the various expressions used to describe Israel in the Old Testament, but also point forward to the fulfillment of prophecy and the time when the Gentiles will be counted among the beloved (Hosea 2:23). These two designations also reflect Paul’s understanding of the covenant promises made to Israel, and now fulfilled in Christ Jesus. As such, those who were formerly separate from the commonwealth of Israel by flesh (birth), are now grafted into Israel’s heritage by faith (11:17). And this to our benefit!

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A SETTLED PURPOSE 

“through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name” (Romans 1:5).

The objective of Paul’s ministry is to bring about in the life of Gentiles that which God’s grace and calling has accomplished already among the saints in Rome—“the obedience of faith” (v.6-7). That is, a faith that finds its subsistence and substance in obedience; obedience being the only sufficient evidence of faith. While our willingness to speak up on matters of faith is necessary, living it is indispensable if His name is to be truly honored.

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